I’ve been a faithful Dropbox customer for many, many years. Their service solved a very real problem for me: sharing files between multiple computers. As a software engineer (and just a generally geeky person) I have several computers. I have three at home (not including my file server or several Raspberry Pi project boxes) and two at work. It’s really convenient to be able to access and transfer files between them. While I don’t use it as much, Dropbox also works on smart devices, too. Dropbox did one thing and it did it very well. (Cue foreboding music.)
Two weeks ago, while playing video games and trying to keep an eye on my fantasy football score, I managed to spill an entire glass of port wine on my MacBook Pro. The wine quickly soaked into the keyboard and infiltrated every nook and cranny. (I should know… I opened it up in a vain attempt to save it. It wasn’t pretty. Smelled good, though.) So I was suddenly in the market for a new laptop.
As I was installing all my favorite apps on the new machine, I came to Dropbox. The Dropbox installer told me that the free version of the service (which has sufficed all this time) only supported three devices. It happily invited me to de-authorize fourteen other devices or pay $10/month to upgrade. (Some of these were devices I no longer owned, but I still needed way more than three.) So I decided it was time to look elsewhere.
Trust No One (but Us)
Today there are several services like Dropbox: Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, Apple’s iCloud, and Box.com – just to name a few. But, like Dropbox, none of these services offered true “TNO” (trust no one) security. While these services do encrypt your files in transit and at rest on their servers, they hold the keys. If you read the privacy policies, they make it clear that they scan your files to offer you features like search, but also to target advertising. They tout their security and vow to protect your files from everyone… everyone but them. As a privacy advocate, this doesn’t work for me.
As it happened, I had already been doing some research on this. In recent years, the Dropbox app has gotten really pushy about wanting me to keep all my files in their service. The app sunk its tendrils into the operating system and many popular other apps, popping up all over the place. This rubbed me the wrong way, so I was already looking for a replacement.
And the Winner Is…
After a ton of research, I settled on Sync.com. There are actually several very secure and private cloud storage and sync services, but Sync.com in particular checked all my boxes:
TNO security – all files are locally encrypted and inscrutable to anyone else (including Sync.com)
A generous free tier – 5GB plus another free GB after completing some simple getting started tasks
Affordable premium plans ($60/year for 200GB, $94/year for 2TB!)
Supports all major platforms: Mac and PC, iPhone and Android
Easy to use and unobtrusive app
Ability to share files with others
A solid reputation
Coincidentally, my favorite security podcast, Security Now, recently did a thorough report on file syncing services. They picked Sync.com, as well. (Full disclosure: after I declared this choice on my podcast, Sync.com graciously offered me a free upgrade, which I took. But I was about to pay for this, anyway.)
Sync.com also has a generous referral program. If you join via a referral, you and the referrer each get another free gigabyte of storage space (up to a max of 20 referrals, I think). If you can’t find someone to refer you, you can use my referral link here. I don’t really need the extra space, but there’s no reason not to take another free GB for yourself.